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How long can an EU/EEA citizen stay in the UK post Brexit?

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

Brexit heralded the end of freedom of movement for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK and subjected these citizens to the constraints of the UK immigration rules.

When those EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were not resident in the UK prior to 23:00GMT on 31 December 2020 (and who, therefore, are not eligible to apply for leave under the EU Settlement Scheme) now come to the UK for a short period of time, they do so as visitors as defined by the UK immigration rules. Whilst EU, EEA and Swiss citizens are not required to obtain a visit visa in advance of travel the UK, if they are permitted entry at the UK border, they will be admitted subject to the constraints associated with entering the UK as a visitor.

These constraints are as follows:

Permitted duration of visit

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens visiting the UK as visitors are only allowed to remain in the UK for a period of up to 6 months, from each date of entry to the UK. This is in line with the period of time granted to all visitors entering the UK. Those who remain in the UK for longer than 6 months as a visitor, whether EU, EEA, Swiss, or another nationality, will be considered as overstayers in the UK, which can result in them being liable to be removed from the UK and may have serious negative consequences on any future UK immigration applications or visits to the UK.

Passport validity

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals must evidence a valid passport when entering the UK as a visitor and their passport must be valid for the duration of their stay in the UK.

As of 1 October 2021, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens are no longer able to enter the UK as visitors by only evidencing a valid national ID card.

Permitted activities

All visitors entering the UK are only allowed to pursue certain activities whilst in the UK. These include visiting family and friends, volunteering for no more than a period of 30 days for a registered charity, and general business activities such as attend meetings and conferences, interviews, negotiating and signing deals/contracts, and attend trade fairs etc. The list of specific permitted activities for visitors covers a wide range of potential scenarios, and if you are unsure if your reason for entering the UK as a visitor falls within a permitted activity, Gherson may be able to help.

Prohibited activities

Those in the UK as visitors are not allowed to work, which covers taking employment in the UK, or establishing and running a business in the UK as a self employed person, or providing goods and services. Those who wish to come to the UK specifically for employment or work should instead apply for the relevant UK visa which permits their intended activity, such as an Innovator visa or Skilled Worker visa.

Furthermore, visitors in the UK are not permitted to get married, access medical treatment (other than private medical treatment), or study a course (exceptions for short term courses apply).

It is important to understand that those entering the UK as visitors must do so as genuine visitors. This means those who intend to come to the UK to undertake permitted activities as a visitor, duly depart from the UK to their home country within the permitted 6-month period, and do not intend to make the UK their place of residence through frequent or successive visits.

How can we help?

Numerous unique and specific circumstances exist for those wishing to come to the UK for a short period of time in any capacity, which may not fall within the permitted activities for UK visitors. Gherson has a wealth of experience with specific UK visitor requirements and visit visa scenarios, and is able to assist across the spectrum of the UK immigration system as applicable to those visiting the UK.

If you have any queries relating to the blogs published, or are interested in talking to us about your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2021

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